Assessor for Midlothian v Buccleuch Estates Ltd

CourtLands Valuation Appeal Court (Scotland)
Judgment Date26 April 1962
Docket NumberNo. 46.

Lands Valuation Appeal Court.

Lord Patrick. Lord Sorn. Lord Kilbrandon.

No. 46.
Assessor for Midlothian
Buccleuch Estates

Valuation—Value—Subjects—Agricultural lands and heritages—Sawmills situated near but not on woodland—Whether sawmills "used as woodlands" and "solely in connexion with agricultural operations thereon"—Valuation and Bating (Scotland) Act, 1956 (4 and 5 Eliz. II, cap. 60), sec. 7 (2).

The Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act, 1956, by sec, 7, enacts: "(2) In this section—“agricultural lands and heritages” means any lands and heritages used for agricultural or pastoral purposes only or as woodlands, market gardens, orchards, allotments or allotment gardens and any lands exceeding one quarter of an acre used for the purpose of poultry farming, but does not include any buildings thereon other than agricultural buildings, or any garden, yard, garage, outhouse or pertinent belonging to and occupied along with a dwelling-house, or any land kept or preserved mainly or exclusively for sporting purposes; “agricultural buildings” means buildings (other than dwelling-houses) occupied together with agricultural lands and heritages, or being or forming part of a market garden, and in either case used solely in connexion with agricultural operations thereon; …" Sec. 7 (3) further provides that no agricultural lands and heritages shall be entered in the Valuation Roll.

Each of six owners of woodlands also owned and occupied sawmills which were used in association with the woodlands. Four of the sawmills were situated on land separated by various distances from the woodlands which they served; one of the sawmills was next to, but not on, the woodlands; and another sawmill served the whole estate and not just the woodlands.

Held (diss. Lord Sorn) that none of the sawmills were agricultural lands and heritages within the meaning of see. 7 (2) of the 1956 Act, and accordingly that they fell to be entered in the Valuation Roll.

At a meeting of the Valuation Appeal Committee for the County of Midlothian the Buccleuch Estates, Limited, appealed against an entry in the Valuation Roll in respect of a sawmill at Thornybank, Dalkeith, of which they were shown as owners and occupiers. The gross annual value of the sawmill was shown as £125. The proprietors claimed that the entry in the Roll should be deleted on the ground that the subjects were solely used for agricultural operations on their own lands; or alternatively that the value assessed was excessive. The Committee having sustained their appeal, the Assessor expressed dissatisfaction and asked for a case to be stated on appeal to the Lands Valuation Appeal Court.

The case stated that the following facts were admitted or were held by the Committee to be proved or within the knowledge of the Committee:—"(1) The sawmill is situated at Thornybank, Dalkeith, to the north of the town of Dalkeith. It is owned and occupied by the Buccleuch Estates, Limited, who also occupy about 469 acres of woodland on Dalkeith Estate. The nearest portion of woodland is about three hundred yards away, and the furthest about two miles. (2) The woodlands are dedicated under the Forestry Commission dedication scheme. The old plantations are mainly of hardwood, while conifers and hardwood are grown in the new plantations now coming up. Of the mature timber being felled, the better quality cuts, mostly of sound oak, are normally sold, felled at stump, direct to timber merchants. There is, however, only a limited market for other inferior timber standing or in log. This inferior timber, which is not attractive to timber merchants has therefore to be hauled to the sawmill for sawing before a market can be found for it. Although a market is thereby found for this inferior timber, the sawmill, if costed as a separate enterprise, would have been operating at an average loss of £475 per annum—making full allowance for all sawn timber used for estate purposes and putting a reasonable value on the timber taken from the woodlands. This is due to the rough and rotten nature of much of the timber handled at the sawmill, and to the low price obtainable for the timber when sawn. Despite this loss, however, the sawmill has to be run for the benefit of the woodlands as a whole, because these woodlands must be cleared of mature and over-mature wood for replanting at the proper season in accordance with the provisions of the forestry dedication plan of operations. It would be impracticable to saw up the said class of timber except in a proper sawmill equipped with large saws. (3) The processing of the wood at the sawmill is confined to sawing it into different sizes and shapes whereby it can be marketed. The wood so sawn is thus made into sleepers, chocks, planks, cover boards, and pit lids—the latter being the outside of logs which would otherwise be waste. A proportion of what would otherwise be waste is sold as firewood. The average value of the annual production in the sawmill is about £9700. About twenty per centum of the output of this sawmill is retained on Dalkeith Estate for use in connexion with the maintenance and upkeep of the property, which consists mainly of agricultural and forestry subjects. In this connexion the timber is used for fencing stobs to plantations and fields or (after conversion in separate workshops which are not part of the appeal subjects and which are admitted not to be agricultural subjects) for building materials, rails, and gates. (4) All timber sawn in the sawmill comes from the said woodlands on Dalkeith Estate and no outside timber is imported. (5) The sawmill area consists of a yard measuring fifty-seven yards by fifty yards in which are situated:—(a) the actual sawmill building, which measures eighty-five feet by twenty-three feet, and is a semi-permanent structure of wood, with a corrugated iron roof, containing one five feet diameter 40 h.p. saw and rack bench (twenty feet approximately); one three feet diameter 5 h.p. saw and short rack bench (eight feet approximately); and one two feet six inches diameter cross-cut saw. (b) a firewood store fed by conveyor belt from the cross-cut saw. (c) a sawdust shed fed by blower from each saw. (d) stores for forester's equipment, (e) tractor house and garage for lorry, the said vehicles being used entirely in connexion with timber, woodland, or agricultural operations. (f) three-ton Butters crane, situated at the entrance to the sawmill building, for handling timber. (6) It is agreed that if the sawmill is not an "agricultural building" in terms of the said Act it falls to be entered in the Valuation Roll at a net annual value of £80 industrial, rateable value £40. (7) In previous years the subjects did not enter the Valuation Roll, being included as a unum quidwith other property entered in the Roll subject to the occupation of the appellants."

The contentions of the parties were stated as follows:—

"The appellants contended:—The sawmill on the appellants' estates should not be separately assessed because it was operated “solely in connexion with agricultural operations” in accordance with section 7 (1) and (2) of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act, 1956. Reference was made to Brooks and Spencer v. Nelson and Colne District Appeal Committee 41 R. & I. T. 339, Hinks and Sons v. AcklandUNK, 44 R. & I. T. 517, and Thomson v. Milk Marketing BoardELR, [1952] 2 Q. B. 817."

"The Assessor contended:—That the subjects of appeal failed to satisfy or fall within the definition of section 7 (2) of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act, 1956, and should accordingly be entered in the Valuation Roll. Reference was made to Assessor for West Lothian v. CadzowSC, 1957 S. C. 379."

The decision of the Committee was stated as follows:—"The Committee, after careful consideration of the arguments adduced, were of opinion that the appeal succeeded, and that the entry complained of should be deleted from the Valuation Roll for the following reasons:—(1) That the operations of the appellants in respect of the subjects of appeal fall within the scope of section 7(1) and the definitions of section 7 (2) of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act, 1956, and are all agricultural operations thereunder. (2) That in connexion with the appellants' forestry operations, thinning and disposal of timber had to take place, and that the subjects of appeal are necessarily used in connexion with such disposal. (3) That forestry, including necessary cutting and thinning operations and disposal of the products thereof, was an agricultural operation in terms of the Act. (4) That, as no timber from outside the appellants' own estates was processed in the subjects of appeal, the said subjects were used solely in connexion with agricultural operations performed by the appellants. (5) That the appellants could not reasonably perform these said operations in any other way. (6) The Committee further decided that, should their decision on the foregoing point of law be held to be erroneous, the value of the subjects of appeal should be £80, as agreed by the parties."

The case was heard along with five other cases in which a similar issue was raised. The statement of facts and contentions of the parties in three of the cases were in terms similar to those in the Buccleuch Estates case. In these and the remaining two cases the relevant differences of fact appear sufficiently from the...

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